WhatWe DoOurMissionHistoryICGStaffResourcesDeepeningOur Identity Since 1998, the Institute on the Common Good at Regis University has dedicated itself to programs aimed at changing the world one dialogue at a time. We operate under the simple theory that through dialogue and trust building, major social change can occur. We are founded on the principles of Catholic social teaching. We work to create spaces where true dialogue can happen, whether it’s between neighbors struggling to deal with homelessness in their midst, local leaders of religions in conflict around the world or members of society seeking answers to the dilemma of immigration. We call it Transformational Dialogue. Through it all, we promote the concept of the common good. We serve as a public resource on community dialogue, promote academic discourse on topics related to dialogue and encourage communal discernment in the traditions of Quaker and Ignatian Spirituality. Unlike institutes that focus solely on research and analysis, the Institute is unique in that it actively partners with groups engaged in community life. We assert the dignity and social nature of the human person. Therefore, every voice is welcome around. Dialogue. Discernment. Democratic Deliberation. Together, these are the concepts that form the foundation of the mission of the Institute on the Common Good. But what exactly do we mean by these words? At their center, they are the tools we use to help resolve community issues, building trust and strong relationships in order to find innovative solutions to challenges. Used together, they can help us uncover answers that truly lead us to the common good. All reflect the Roman Catholic and Jesuit heritage of Regis University and the Institute. Depending on the nature of a project, we may use one or all of these tools on any given day. The Institute does not identify a specific set of techniques or steps for its work, but rather attempts to establish a climate within which the dialogue – or conversation, discernment – or seeking God’s will, and deliberation – or intentional consideration, happen. This is called the “space” or “tone” of the group and embodies the underlying thinking and feelings as well as the group’s intentions and perceptions. Dialogue is at the core of major social change. The Institute was founded on the conviction that key issues can be resolved and societal changes can occur if people speak with one another honestly and respectfully. Called transformational dialogue, for us it comes from roots deep within the philosophy of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, of not just speaking but listening, and together bringing about change. We continue to build on these roots using some of the latest research in the emerging field of dialogue. The idea of communal discernment, the ability to deliberate and discuss where to go as a community, was a gift from St. Ignatius. This tool used as a way for discerning the will of God for the community has been a mark of Jesuit spirituality over the centuries. This style of discernment has long sought “a unity achieved in an atmosphere of prayerful peace.” Discernment is a tool primarily used with spiritual and faith-based communities who seek to draw on their spiritual commitments to discern the will of the Spirit within the group. Democratic deliberation is used primarily by civic groups as they seek to interweave the place of the individual and the place of common good in their shared community life. Sometimes these places may seem to be divergent, but through deliberation a balance can usually be found. If you or your organization would like the Institute to facilitate a private forum, please fill out the Forum Request Form. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuit Experience Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, wrote his Spiritual Exercises to guide the members of the Society of Jesus. This framework allows ICG facilitators and staff to place themselves in a mindset that enables them to see the group and issues before them with greater openness and awareness. St. Ignatius wrote that the work of the members of the Society should not be for their own benefit, but always be done for the greater good of the community of God and for the greater glory of the Creator. The work was thus other centered and recognized that we are part of something greater then our individual selves. It also realized, however, that each individual is a unique manifestation of the divine and so each person’s approach must be honored by recognizing and understanding that uniqueness. The hallmarks of this philosophy can be summarized in three key points: finding God in all things; right intentions, or the assumption that each person operates from a place of good purpose; and holy indifference, that we are will to change or be transformed by others. The Institute also is heavily influenced by following the tradition of Catholic social teaching. Within Catholic Social teaching are four key concepts that mark this particular approach. These provide the core rationale for why we do the work that we do. Human Dignity: The inherent belief in the dignity of the human person. Each person is recognized as being made in the image of God. Common Good and Community: The human person is both sacred and social, growing and achieving fulfillment only in community. Subsidiarity and Participation: Individuals have a right to fully participate in decisions made on issues relevant to them, and giving a voice to the most vulnerable members of society is a key moral duty. Rights and Responsibilities: Society can only function if the fullest level of human rights are recognized and members recognize their rights and well as their responsibilities to their own welfare and the welfare of others. The Institute on the Common Good was established in 1998 by Regis University President Father Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., based on his conviction that important issues can be resolved and societal changes can occur if people gather together and speak honestly with one another. His conviction comes from the heart of Catholic social teaching, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and his own experiences with the power of dialogue between people who come to the table with diverse perspectives to engage one another around civic and social issues. While working for America, a Jesuit Catholic weekly magazine, Father Sheeran was on hand when the New York president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the head of the local chapter of the Urban League, the New York area vice president of General Motors, and other business and labor leaders met in a conference room at the magazine’s New York City offices. It was the height of the Civil Rights Movement and the groups were suspicious of one another. But after informal conversation in that neutral, safe location, they were able to create a set of priorities that helped convince Civil Rights leaders that New York business and labor leaders were committed to working together. Later that year when Newark, New Jersey, erupted in flames in response to labor and race disputes, New York City did not. Twenty years later, Father Sheeran again saw how bringing people together could make a real difference. In 1993, he hosted the first meeting between Pope John Paul II and President Bill Clinton when World Youth Day took place in Denver. These two world leaders had divergent opinions on an array of issues, including abortion, economic policies and the obligations of industrialized nations toward poor nations. He expected their private conversation would be brief, but instead they conversed for 90 minutes and developed a way the Vatican could serve as a channel for providing U.S. relief into Muslsim countries when needed. They also explored how the Pope could nudge the Croatians, the majority of whom are Roman Catholic, toward peace in the former Yugoslavia. While at Regis University, the pope and the president found common ground and were able to make significant strides in resolving two international problems. From these and other experiences, Father Sheeran began to develop the idea of inviting people of diverse viewpoints to Regis University where they would find a neutral environment to discuss issues of great social import. During the 1997-98 academic year, he appointed Father Richard Dunphy, S.J., as the Institute’s first director. Under Father Dunphy’s direction, programming began the next year. In 2001, Dr. Paul Alexander, director of the Master of Nonprofit Management Master’s degree at Regis University, took over as director, a role he continues today. Much of the work accomplished by the Institute in the last decade has been behind the scenes by design, giving ownership to the stakeholders and members of the community who met with one another under the guidance of Institute staff to resolve a range of issues. The Institute on the Common Good has helped facilitated dialogues that resulted in understanding and change on homelessness in the Capitol Hills Neighborhood of Denver, health care, immigration issues in the city and peer mediation programs in the Denver Public Schools. One of our first successes came in 1999, when the Institute facilitated a private forum on criminal justice for the U.S. Bishop’s Committee on Domestic Policy, the results of which were included in the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Statement on Criminal Justice. Speakers Perhaps our most visible work comes from the internationally known speakers we invite to the Regis University campus, most notably Nobel Peace Prize recipients. One of the first guests of the Institute was Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in November 1998, following in the footsteps of Betty Williams of Northern Ireland, who became the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to speak on the Regis University campus, and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Since 1998, we have upheld this tradition and continue to invite Nobel Peace Laureates and other influential speakers to visit the Denver community. We welcomed, among others, Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel in 2001, former President of Poland Lech Walesa in 2003, and most recently, David Trimble of Northern Ireland in 2006. Altogether, 13 Nobel Peace Prize recipients have visited Regis University since 1996. We invite others to speak as well, with the intention that the intellectual discourse and emotional response to the talks will find an outlet through further conversations and dialogue among the participants. Our logo Our logo is formed by the union of the letters ICG. The C and G combine to form a Mandorla or “Vesica Piscis,” which is an ancient symbol of two circles coming together, symbolizing the interactions and interdependence of opposing worlds and forces. A flame tops the letter I, forming a torch to symbolize the new learning, wisdom and knowledge that emerge from the work of the Institute. Kari Kloos, Director Email, 303.964.5733 Daniel Justin, Assistant Director Email, 303.964.5717 Fredricka Brown, Operations Coordinator Fredricka J. Brown is operations coordinator for the Institute on the Common Good, where her responsibilities include the direction, continuity and image of the office and program services. She also serves as liaison between the ICG and key University management, and community, business and religious organizations; coordinates budgetary and fiscal activities of the ICG and its network of supported programs; and coordinates ICG events. Previously, Fredricka was administrative coordinator for the Office of Public Affairs at Regis, where she assisted in orchestrating the visits of several Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and the president of Ireland, worked as the primary researcher of University statistical information for surveys and served as the University’s chair for its annual United Way Campaign, among other duties. She is pursuing a degree in Communication from Regis University, when she’s not busy with her husband and their two daughters. She’s an active community volunteer, previously serving on the board of the Pomona High School Band, and with the Wheat Ridge High School girls swim team and Saints Peter and Paul School. Email, 303.458.4967 In Print "Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together," by William Isaacs (1999) "From Debate to Dialogue: Using the Understanding Process to Transform Our Conversations," by Deborah L. Flick (1998) "The Magic of Dialogue," by Daniel Yankelovich (1999) "On Dialogue," by David Bohm (1996) "Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future," by Margaret J. Wheatley (2002) "The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter," by Juanita Brown, with David Isaacs and the World Café Community (2005) On Web National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation www.thataway.org/index.html NCDD brings together and supports people, organizations and resources to expand the power of discussion under the belief that elevating the quality of thinking and communication is key to solving humanity’s most pressing problems. Deliberative Democracy Consortium www.deliberative-democracy.net/ The Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) is a network of researchers and practitioners working together to strengthen the field of deliberative democracy. Everyday Democracy www.everyday-democracy.org Everyday Democracy provides tools and resources to promote public deliberation and problem solving through dialogue. Public Conversations Project www.publicconversations.org/ The Public Conversations Project (PCP) helps people with fundamental disagreements over divisive issues develop the mutual understanding and trust essential for strong communities and positive action. Let’s Talk America www.letstalkamerica.org/ Let’s Talk America is a nationwide movement to bring together Americans from all points on the political spectrum for lively, open-hearted dialogue to consider questions essential to the future of democracy. National Issues Forums www.nifi.org/ National Issues Forums (NIF) is a nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored public forums for the consideration of public policy issues rooted in the simple notion that people need to come together to reason and talk. World Cafe Conversations www.theworldcafe.com/ World Café Conversations offer a creative process for leading collaborative dialogue, sharing knowledge and creating possibilities for action in groups of all sizes. The Citizen Science Toolbox www.coastal.crc.org.au/toolbox/alpha-list.asp The Citizen Science Toolbox offers free resources on the principles and strategies to enhance meaningful stakeholder involvement in decision-making. The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue www.sfu.ca/dialogue/ The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue is a conference center dedicated to understanding effective communication, serving as a catalyst for issues ranging from restorative justice to real estate, health care to transit, and international law to art. The Philia Dialogue on Caring Citizenship www.philia.ca/cms_en/page1230.cfm The Philia Dialogue on Caring Citizenship was founded on the simple belief that the health, well-being and strength of society requires the presence and participation of all citizens. For almost 15 years, ICG has been serving communities and organizations dedicated to the common good by providing a safe and effective space for dialogue, communal discernment and public deliberation. More than ever before, we are observing our society and its institutions grappling with increasingly complex and often, seemingly, irreconcilable issues in an environment of escalating polarization and divisiveness. At the same time, we are experiencing a pressing desire on the part of many groups to effectively, meaningfully and courageously meet these challenges in more innovative and creative ways. As such, ICG has discerned a need to both deepen and broaden its services as a way of addressing these trends and desires in our culture. At the core of this expanded service is a value and belief that asserts effective, sustained and meaningful change happens when we are becoming who we are, who we were created to be, whether that is a community, an organization, a group or an individual, and that it is possible to align and find synergy between and among these layers within a system. Our belief goes on to say that this identity, or alignment of identities, is in fact, an expression of the common good and how we might become more fully engaged citizens of the world. And so, to serve the common good, we must explore together: how and who I and we are becoming discovering what it is that is trying to live through me and us what it is that I and we aspire to, which is what I and we are willing to be in service to This forms the basis for ICG’s integrated approach to growing, learning, serving and performing. It offers a way of maximizing community and organizational potential as well as sustained, transformational change by cultivating the interplay of specialness and commonness that exists in and between a group and its individual members. Thus, the Institute has expanded its services to include a simultaneous offering of individual development and coaching to our clients’ key members as we also continue our work with their groups and communities. To learn more, please view the Deeping Our Identity and contact: Albert W. Starkey, M.S. or the Institute on the Common Good.